By: Wamika Razdan
Please note that the information in this blog is up-to-date as of November 5, 2021. Constantly monitor official government sources for COVID-19 policy updates.
With the increasing requirements on mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations across the country, many are left to wonder whether their choice to get vaccinated will impact their employment opportunities. Recently, the government has enforced mandatory vaccination policies for specific job sectors, thus creating mixed feelings of concern and relief amongst the population.
Which Employment Sectors are Regulated with the Vaccine Mandates?
The regulation for mandatory vaccinations varies between the public and private sectors. Within the private sector, employers are given the option to enforce a vaccine mandate policy. However, employees working in the industries listed below are currently required under federal regulation to receive mandatory COVID-19 vaccines:
- Volunteers, students, casual workers, and full-time employees for federal departments and agencies (i.e., Canada Border Services Agency, Department of Health, Service Canada, Veterans Affairs Canada, Public Health Agency of Canada, Correctional Services of Canada, etc.)
- Employees working in the federally regulated air, marine, rail transportation industries
The federal government’s intention behind the enforcement of the vaccine mandate within these industries is rooted in aiming to “keeping people safe on the job and in our communities.”
Can I be Forced to Get Vaccinated?
Based on current federal regulations, if you are an employee within the public sector, you are required to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. However, this is not the case within the private sector. Various municipalities, such as the city of Toronto, have released guidelines for employers to implement a mandatory vaccination policy. These guidelines explicitly state that employers must identify a valid scope and purpose for the enforcement of such policy along with provisions for unvaccinated workers. Within these provisions, there must be alternatives for individuals who decline to get vaccinated for medical reasons or reasons which are protected under the Human Rights Act. These options include:
- Regular COVID-19 testing, using additional PPE in the workplace, work reassignments or modified work for unvaccinated or partially vaccinated employees.
- If employers are unable to reassign their employees, then they must consider if the unvaccinated worker is able to use their vacation or unpaid leave until they can safely return to the workplace.
- Not being permitted within the COVID-19 outbreak area in the workplace if the employee is unvaccinated or partially vaccinated. This also applies for employees without vaccination records as they are assumed to be unvaccinated.
Essentially, employers are required to ensure that there are adequate alternatives in place to accommodate the individual interests of both their vaccinated and unvaccinated employees. Although employers cannot force you to get vaccinated, they do have the ability to make your continued employment conditional if you choose not to get vaccinated. If you are fired for your vaccination status, it is expected that you should be provided with a severance package.
For employees who have received medical exemption from getting their vaccine, and this exemption is dismissed by their employer, there is potential for this to be considered discriminatory termination.
Concerned about the Privacy of your Vaccination Status?
Your employer’s vaccine mandate must also indicate how your vaccination status will be used by employers. When collecting proof of vaccination, employers must comply with the relevant privacy legislations which govern confidentiality and security of employee’s personal and health information.
What Should I do if I am Fired for not getting Vaccinated?
The implementation of vaccine mandates is highly complex and must be carefully enforced. These new regulations intersect with various areas of law such as human rights and accessibility, labour and employment law, privacy, health care consent, and occupational health and safety. If you believe that you have been wrongfully terminated by your employer, visit MyOpenCourt here. The various tools, such as the “Employee or Contractor” tool and the “Termination Compensation Calculator” tool use AI-powered technology which can help inform you of the rights and benefits you are entitled to in scenarios of termination based on the most relevant case law. Each tool asks a series of simple questions to conclude the possible outcome of your situation. For more information on the project, please click here.
Disclaimer: This article provides information of a general nature only. It does not provide legal advice nor can it or should it be relied upon. All scenarios are specific to their facts and will differ from the situations in the articles. If you have specific legal questions you should consult a lawyer.
 Supra note 7.
 Supra note 3.